A Highland fling – A Venture Trust and British Exploring Society partnership
Scotland's spectacular wild places are inherently challenging. This setting - far removed from young peoples' everyday environments – will give a group of “Young Explorers” the chance to tackle physical, emotional and social challenges this week.
These challenges are carefully designed to encourage learning and development, to help participants increase their aspirations, confidence and motivation, and to develop a range of skills for life, learning and work.
The wilderness is at the heart of Venture Trust’s programmes of intensive personal development. This ethos and belief in the power of the outdoors is shared with British Exploring Society and has led to the historic charity teaming up with Venture Trust to deliver its first ever Scottish expedition with ‘UK Explorers’, after delivering expeditions across the globe for 87 years.
Both organisations deliver programmes which allow young people to begin to discover that there are strengths that they didn't think they had, aspects of their background and personality that they can draw on to solve problems whether traversing a high ropes course with Venture Trust, or practiced on a canoeing expedition with British Exploring Society. Other key skills include communication, time management, accountability, establishing trust, dealing with challenging situations, and giving and receiving feedback. Every aspect of the wilderness journey is designed with the introduction and development of these concepts in mind.
The Venture Trust approach aligns itself with British Exploring Society – an organisation that prepares and takes young people (between the ages of 14 and 25) on expeditions to remote locations where they face challenges, gain skills and learn about themselves. The transformative programmes have always included a strong focus on adventure, acquiring knowledge and personal development and impart a new-found confidence and self-belief which is carried forward in life.
Venture Trust operations manager Simon White said the partnership aims to help support British Exploring Society and its leaders in delivering great personal development journeys – as Venture Trust has been doing for more than 20 years.
“They have huge experience in delivering wilderness expeditions all around the world and many of them of five-week duration in remote and inhospitable places. We’re delighted that they want to add the knowledge and enthusiasm of Venture Trust to their expeditions,” Simon said.
“Ahead of British Exploring Society’s first Scottish expedition, Venture Trust delivered training to their leadership team for the UK Explorers programme. In addition, we have supported them with the logistics and planning. Collaboration between third sector partners can make a difference to the lives of young people. And it is a testament to Venture Trust that a respected charity like British Exploring Society – running since 1932 – recognises the value and skills we share.”
In keeping with all British Exploring Society programmes, whether in the Himalaya or the Amazon, 40 Young Explorers – working with 12 Leaders – have planned their own expedition and are completely self-sufficient in the remote and rugged Scottish Highlands. They will only have the equipment and supplies they carry on their backs and will need to plan their routes, their trekking objectives and their science projects to ensure they can collect water from streams for drinking and cooking and be able to locate remote campsites.
The collaboration between two organisations – both harnessing the transformative powers of the outdoors – means even more young people will benefit from acquiring and developing the skills to face life’s challenges head on.
Venture Trust has taken its expert knowledge and evidence-led approach to helping young people struggling with multiple and complex issues, including long term unemployment, to the European stage.
Chief executive officer Amelia Morgan was a keynote speaker at a Working Group in Brussels on Improving the Performance of Labour Markets and Social Systems : “Young people in Europe: how to reduce the number of NEETs?”
Her presentation to a group of European social partners highlighted the context in Scotland regarding youth employment, the skills agenda and the issues we see for young people.
The focus of the working group will be on how to reduce the number of young people who are neither in employment nor in education or training (NEETs) in Europe. This may result in a joint or co-ordinated social partners’ proposals or actions, which will take into consideration national practices and will be related to the European process.
“Venture Trust is sharing our outdoor learning approach to helping young people acquire the life skills to be ready for work and to then transition well and keep a job,” Amelia said.
“Our organisation has been working in the outdoors with vulnerable groups for more than 20 years. We have a distinctive and unique approach. Venture Trust supports individuals to develop the skills to become more employable and enjoy more stable lives. The outdoor element is a key part of our programme, but it produces great results because we weave community engagement and ongoing support into our offer, and that is what produces sustainable outcomes.”
Through Inspiring Young Futures – a programme for young people – Venture Trust has supported 2,200 disadvantaged young people to overcome multiple and complex life circumstances during the past 10 years. This has resulted in 1,150 individuals achieving positive destinations – jobs, training or volunteering.
How did we achieve this? Over 2,000 individuals received 1-to-1 outreach support in local communities. One thousand young people were supported to take part in personal development courses, using experiential learning with cognitive and therapeutic developmental techniques in Scotland’s challenging wilderness environments. We have also helped 120 individuals gain recognised qualifications.
Other impacts included 84% improved confidence, 89% were more employable, 74% improved community bonds and 70% increased use of community services.
Youth unemployment figures in Scotland have dropped significantly over the past few years and a target to cut youth unemployment in Scotland has been met four years ahead of schedule. This is encouraging. However, thousands of young people still remain long-term unemployed because they lack the very basic life skills needed to begin working towards securing and sustaining a job.
Evidence shows being unemployed when young leads to a higher likelihood in later life of being impacted in terms of pay, high unemployment, fewer opportunities, and poorer health.
The people Venture Trust help first require significant investment to achieve greater stability – addressing chaotic or destructive behaviours to become ready for training and employment so that they can sustain a job.
Our impact driven results will contribute to supporting a group of young people throughout Europe who continue to struggle and need support. Venture Trust and our partners will help them tap into their potential by giving them the skills to change their lives.